Duluth mayor declines raise in salary

By KBJR News 1

November 26, 2013 Updated Nov 26, 2013 at 7:35 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- In a surprising turn of events, Duluth Mayor Don Ness announced he will not accept a raise in salary passed last night by the city council.

The mayor says that while an adjustment should be made eventually, he could not accept the raise for moral reasons.

The salary increase would have made Duluth's Mayor among the highest paid mayors in the state.

After much debate, Duluth City Councilors approved a nearly 20-thousand dollar raise or 25 percent increase of the mayoral salary Monday night.
The mayor held a news conference to discuss the salary increase. He expressed that the salary increase should be about the position and not about any particular person.

"Eventually this salary needs to be adjusted. I felt accepting the increase would compromise and deter from my ability to serve this community in the best way that I could." Said Duluth Mayor, Don Ness.

Mayor Ness also noted that the amount of increase was large, especially when he considered what many other Duluthians may earn.
The mayor had been silent during discussion from the council until a vote made the decision final.

"The mayor is the CEO of our city and he runs the city and it's embarrassing to me that we haven't looked at it on a regular basis. That he is getting paid so little." Said Duluth City Councilor, Sharla Gardner.

"That just doesn't sit very well at a time when our finances are in pretty poor shape we don't have money for our streets. We have a high unemployment rate." Said Duluth City Councilor, Jim Stauber.

Mayor Ness says that he lost plenty of sleep after the vote and decided to decline the raise after consulting his family.

"This discussion has afforded us an opportunity to recommit to our priorities and it's been constructive." Said the Mayor's wife, Laura Ness.

The mayor has also said that any amount of a raise would have led to the same decision.

Since the salary increase was passed by the city council, the new salary will likely apply to the mayoral position after the next election, so long as the elected mayor chooses to accept the raise.

Bryce Henry
bhenry@kbjr.com